• How to Design Experiments in Animal Behaviour: 14. Cuckoos Lay Their Eggs in Others’ Nests, But Why Do the Hosts Get Fooled?

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    • Keywords


      Brood parasitism, cuckoo, mimetic eggs, arms race.

    • Abstract


      That the cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of other species and does not build its own nest or raise its own offspring, is one of the oldest known facts about Natural History and has been abundantly and eloquently immortalised in myths and stories, art and literature, music and poetry, philosophy and morals. Attempts to understand this curious phenomenon in any rational way began just about 100 years ago. With a landmark study consisting of a few simple and elegant experiments that needed no laboratory or funding, Nick Davies and Michael Brooke at Cambridge University in the UK ushered in its modern scientific study as recently as 1988. In this article, I will describe their experiments and their results and conclusions, accompanied by a running commentary relating their work to the theme of this series and end with some more general reflections on the pursuit of the science of animal behavior.

    • Author Affiliations


      Raghavendra Gadagkar1

      1. Centre for Ecological Sciences Indian Institute of Science Bangalore 560 012, India.
    • Dates


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